Thinking of selling up?

Selling your practice doesn’t have to be complex. We discuss reasons for selling and what to consider.

At the start of a new year, we traditionally think of fresh starts, new aims and ambitions, or even consider doing something completely different, especially when it comes to our professional working life and the direction of our business.

As one’s circumstances and ambitions evolve, the process of change becomes more prominent and dentists may decide that selling their practice might be the next step for their career to facilitate their goals. There can be many reasons for coming to this decision;

A desire to sell but continue practising without the pressures and responsibilities of administration and ownership

  • An opportunity to add a partner/associate into the business who can bring new ideas and perhaps, in time, take over the practice
  • Reaching the age of retirement
  • Wanting to gain financial freedom/realising financial value in their practice
  • The need for a healthier work/life balance
  • Financial security

Regardless of the motive there is one common goal all dentists will strive to achieve when selling their dental practice – to engage in a smooth and seamless transition.

What to consider?

Plan & prepare – “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is a bold but true statement in these circumstances – planning the transition of a practice sale needs time and cannot happen overnight. All options need to be explored and ideally an exit strategy should be in place at least five years (or longer if possible) ahead of sale or retirement. Although the term ‘exit strategy’ has an air of finality about it, it is simply taking the time to consult with experts who can prepare the ground for an eventual sale. With proper planning any dentist can sell their practice more profitably and in as short a time as possible.

A successful sale is based on thorough preparation and information gathering, and preparing well in advance can make the sale a lot less stressful. For example, at the initial valuation stage, agents will require at least three years of audited accounts, NHS pay-statements, Dental Assurance Framework (DAF) reports and details on clinical staff costs and contracts. Details on rental costs, whether the building is leasehold or freehold, how many years are left on the lease, laboratory costs and day-to-day running costs also need to be readily available.

Similarly, buyers will require details on any issues or complaints, information on equipment warranties, testing & validation records and because on average any sale can take six to nine months to complete, a fresh set of accounts before the final sale to ensure performance levels are being maintained.

Work with experts – Finding the right buyer is crucial to the legacy of your business. Whether selling to another individual or selling to a dental group who has experience in buying and managing multiple practices, it is important to identify the best option to fit your individual needs.

Selling can be a complex and stressful experience, so it is in your best interest to get the correct support to guide you through the process by allowing the experts to handle the valuations, fee structures, marketing and selling of your practice.

Make it profitable – Just as in selling a house or flat, we are always advised to build as much value into the property prior to sale as possible, and exactly the same applies when selling your practice. As well as showing the financial stability and revenue streams of the practice, by implementing activities such as improving the décor, marketing to new patients, having a fit for purpose website and being active on social media can all help increase the value.

Communicate – Your staff are valuable assets when it comes to the success of your practice, so when selling, consideration needs to be given to their employment contracts and registration with the relevant quality standards body. It is vital to keep staff informed about your plans to sell, so as to minimise disruption through fears about their future. A happy team is an important part of any successful takeover.

Seamless transition

Whatever your reason for selling and whoever you decide to sell to, for some it can be seen as a welcome bonus to remain working in the practice once new owners come in. In doing so you can bring the benefits of your knowledge and experience without having the stresses and strains of running a business.

Whatever stage of practice life you are at, it is never too soon to consider your future and start thinking about building value into your practice prior to any future sale. Selecting the right professional and client-focused service providers can help you through the legal and financial maze to make your practice stand out from the crowd and realise you and your practice’s full potential.

Looking to sell your practice and need more information? Contact Alliance Dental Care on 01438 534050.